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Monday, October 06, 2014

So now we know to put astronauts into suspended animation?

I became a fan of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was still in high school. One plot point there was that the supercomputer of the spaceship on a mission to Jupiter went crazy - it was supposed to be an artificially intelligent machine - and made an effort to kill all the astronauts.

Two of the astronauts were piloting the ship and three other astronauts was in suspended animation. So this computer was successful in killing one of the non-suspended astronauts and killed the suspended astronauts. The surviving astronaut shut the computer down and continued to Jupiter.

I thought about that film when I saw this article. Placing astronauts in suspended animation was science fiction in 1968 when the film was released and it was science fiction back in the 1990s. While there were actually scientists studying this scenario it looks like we've started to figure out how this could be done.

The body would have to be cooled and has been used as part of medical treatment. In fact I wonder if this is akin to placing someone in a medically induced come. I wish I could answer this but you're not reading the blog of a trained medical doctor.

All the same, at one point in my life I always wanted to be an astronaut. It was excited to go on a modern day "Star Trek" even if the voyage was only to orbit on the shuttle or staying in the solar system going to the moon or to Mars. This article does discuss how we can send people to Mars and suspended animation is one way to do it without having to spend money on lots of food or anything else.

So, it seems again the future is here. Hopefully we're developing much more advanced and faster propulsion to send spacecraft to their destination and back to the earth. Which means hopefully there would be no need for suspended animation.

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